How to Open Your Above Ground Pool

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If you’ve winterized your above ground pool for the cold season, you’ll need to open it before it’s time to swim. A properly winterized pool (if you plan to keep it up) will help it last longer. A properly opened pool will make sure it’s safe to swim and ready to use before it gets too hot.

Opening an above ground pool is a simple process, and after a few seasons, you’ll feel like an old pro. One of the most important aspects of opening your pool is how well you winterize and store your equipment. An improperly winterized pool runs the risk of damage or total destruction. The same goes for improperly stored filters, pumps, and hoses. More on that on our pool winterization page.

This page will cover the general steps and materials required to open your above ground swimming pool.

How to Open an Above Ground Pool

To open your above ground pool you’ll need to:

  1. Clean and remove the winter pool cover.
  2. Remove freeze plugs, ice pillows, etc.
  3. Reconnect filter system and pump.
  4. Clean the pool.
  5. Fill the pool to its appropriate water level.
  6. Run the pump and filter.
  7. Inspect for leaks.
  8. Test and adjust pool alkalinity and pH levels.
  9. Add your shock mix and algaecide.
  10. Add chlorine stabilizer.
  11. Test chemical levels.

Continue reading below for further details on the major steps listed above.

Supplies and equipment you’ll need to open your pool:

  • Skimmer, brush, water pump (for large winter covers.)
  • Pool shock mix.
  • Algaecide.
  • Chlorine.
  • Alkalinity increaser/decreaser
  • pH increaser/decreaser.
  • Chlorine stabilizer.
  • Filter cleaner/replacement.

Clean & Remove Your Winter Pool Cover

The first step to opening your above ground pool after winterization is to clean off the top of the winter cover. Remove any debris and water that have accumulated on the cover to prevent it from falling in the pool. If you have a large above ground pool, you may need a sump pump to remove the water from the cover.

Once clean, remove the winter cover from the pool and lay in somewhere it can be cleaned and dried.

Thoroughly clean and dry the winter cover and fold it away for storage.

Clean the Pool & Check for Leaks

With your cover removed, you can begin cleaning the inside of your pool. Brush the walls and bottom of the liner to knock off any build up. Vacuum the bottom of the pool. Skim the top.

It’s also good time to clean and reinstall your pool ladder and any other equipment.

Once the pool has been thoroughly cleaned, fill it up to its proper water line.

Remove any freeze plugs and skimmer plates that are still installed in the filter, skimmer, or pump inlets.

Make sure the liner is not leakingAfter a long, cold winter (especially if your pool wasn’t closed correctly) the pool’s liner may have become punctured by ice or debris, or damaged as a result of improper water pressure.

Reinstall & Run Pool Equipment

Connect your hoses, skimmer, filter, and pump. Make sure connections are tight and keep an eye out for any leaks.

Prime your pool’s pump with water and lubricate the pump lid with teflon lube.

Clean and replace your filter. Run the filter on backwash to prevent any old water from entering the pool.

Ensure the pump and filter system are functioning. You should see bubbles appear in your pool when they turn on.

Check & Adjust Pool Chemistry

If your pool is clean, the water is at the proper level, and your pump and filter system are running, you’re ready to adjust your pool’s water chemistry. With your test kit, first check the hardness and alkalinity and then the pH and stabilizer/conditioner levels. Adjust with pH and alkalinity increasers or decreasers as necessary. You can find a complete above ground pool start up kit online or at your local pool store.

  • Alkalinity should be within 80 to 140 ppm.
  • pH should be within 7.2 to 7.6 range.
  • Water hardness should be within 200 to 400 ppm.
  • Stabilizer/conditioner should be within 50-70 ppm.
  • Chlorine should be within 1 to 3 ppm.

WARNING: Pool chemicals can be hazardous to your health if used improperly. If you’re uncomfortable adjusting your pool’s chemistry yourself, you should consult a professional.

Add the pool shock mix and your algaecide (if algae is present). Remember to mix your shock in a bucket before adding it to the pool. Test the chlorine levels. Once the pool’s chlorine levels come down from the shock, bring the chlorine and stabilizers to the proper amounts.

After the initial shock and chlorine settings, allow your pool’s filter and pump to run for at least 24 hours and then re-test your levels again. Adjust as necessary and begin your regular maintenance and cleaning routines so you can enjoy your pool for the rest of the season.


Get to Swimming!

Opening your above ground pool doesn’t take more than a couple hours, even quicker if you get the family involved.

After your filter has run for at least 24 hours and your water chemistry is set, you’re ready to start using your pool. Be sure to get into a rhythm of cleaning and maintenance.

If you’ve got a few helping hands, after opening the pool, it’s a great time to clean up the yard. This not only gets you in the spirit for enjoying the outdoors and the warmth again, but it’ll help remove fallen leaves, branches, and debris from getting into your newly cleaned pool. Just be sure to put the cover on your pool if you think you’ll kick up dust.

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